The Temple choir had just paused for one of the ten silences during the day, so the only sound was the whisper of wind through the ceiling vaults. Birds that found their way in and not yet caught by the priests and novices chirped distantly above.
... I pray to the Ten... Help us. Guide us. We are in trouble without You... Minis had long ceased whispering his prayers out loud, but the refrain ran through his head still, even as the sun rose in the sky. Atzana would just have to reschedule his appointments. He'd been praying, instead of sleeping, and the words were finally running into a vast, echoing hum in his head devoid of any meaning, driven only by the intense feeling of need.
Just as the choir resumed its round of hymns, a 'click' sounded but before Minis could raise his head his whole body stiffened. ## ##### STATUS FILES FOU### EMERGENCY BIOHAZARD PROTO#### FILE DAMAGED ###:::: ILE# Numb::er## It was as if all Ten gods were shouting in his head at once in the most ancient of Arkan. EMERG### He could understand perhaps one word in ten and even those made no sense.
...I can see only light, it is too bright, it is too loud. It looks like Risae's cold, white workrooms, screaming, I hear screaming. I can see bodies thrashing on a white surface. Men somehow shrunk to the size of a glass box on a table, blood flowing bright. A window into another place where stars shine stark without twinkling... A vast glass marble below... the Earthsphere turning. Above. Minis flung his arms over his head, afraid it would fall on him.
Risae is not here. There is a short, round woman with fessas cut straight hair and spectacles. Her hair is dark. She watches the glass box of men killing and torturing one another with cold eyes.
“They aren't dying fast enough, Ruth.” The voice comes from somewhere, disembodied. Muunas?
“We just need to be patient,” she answered as if the man addressing her were there.
“No. Our patience is being tried by the Almighty. You need to come up with some way of killing them off faster. We'll never get out of orbit at this rate. The apostate must be gone before the children of the Divine go home.”
“Doctor, believe that the Most High will guide your hands in this. You will create an illness of surpassing elegance and efficacy.”
The woman leans back tapping a pen against her lips. “Prophet of God, you'll get your illness. Soon. Which of the eugenics projects will you have me set aside for this?”
“Get one of your students on it. That should be sufficient.”
“I have just succeeded in making the eye-colour dominant,” she says. “I have the other physical tweaks complete and I am about to go into one of my own tanks, Murray. I won't be able to monitor any of my students as closely as necessary. Especially when setting them to build terminal illnesses for use on the damned.”
“Let them start. You can put finishing touches on it once you come out in the image of the chosen, the blessed that you are creating.”
“I suppose I could.”###$$####$ %^^#$%^* NNNNNNNNNNNNN###Ile no# #####
Then it is Risae standing in the middle of the metal room, she looks somehow uncertain in her own skin, if a God can be uncertain. It is as if She is not used to Her own skin. She regards the sealed glass vials in an open metal box. It clearly has a curse mark painted on the side.
“Now, Charlotte, very nice work. The cure for this is where?” The girl next to Risae looks like a fessas and wrings her hands as if she were panicked at being less than perfect.
“Um... Doctor... I just did the one.”
“Idiot girl. You never, ever bioengineer an illness without its cure, it is part of its construction or you are no proper biotech. Go back into your notes and do it. Never do God's work less than perfectly.”
“I am chastened.” The girl;!%$@###### #### ### FILE DAMAGED casts her eyes down as she says this. Then she takes up the box and bows out. “Praise the Lor##.”
Minis blinked his eyes open, staring at the bottom step before Muunas. There was so much noise in his head he could almost not hear the choir. He felt bruised inside and out. “Praise the Ten,” he finally managed to whisper. His mouth was dry and his whole body, still stretched on the tile, ached and stank of dry sweat. Was that my answer? The Ten ordered this plague to be created?